Tranquil retreat and logistical hub
By Kate Lysakowski
The region of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, located just 30 minutes from the downtown core of Montreal, offers a tranquil retreat for those looking to escape the hectic bustle of city life. Boasting a landmass of 855 square kilometres and representing 23 different municipalities near the convergence of the Ottawa and St. Laurent rivers, Vaudreuil-Soulanges is a unique medley of open countryside, mountain range and vast stretches of water.
What was once considered a location entirely reliant on agricultural farmland only 50 years ago, the region has seen considerable development both industrially and communally; since the early 1990s, the population has grown to almost double the size, housing over 150,000 people and the expectation is that the numbers will only continue to increase over the next 10 years.In addition to the rising population and convenient access toa surplus of natural resources in the region, the area hosts a collection of major highways, railways and waterways, making it a major trade corridor between Canada and the eastern United Statesthat already facilitates 80 percent of all trade between Quebec and its two main trading partners, Ontario and the U.S.
With all of this under consideration, the Centre local dedéveloppement (CLD) Vaudreuil-Soulanges recognized the significance of their regional advantages and, with the support of its county (MRC de Vaudreuil-Soulanges), undertook the responsibility of promoting local economic development and entrepreneurship for the territory. The ultimate goal of the CLD is to capitalize on the resources that are so readily available in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and build economic strength and opportunity for a growing population.
The region of Vaudreuil-Soulanges is undoubtedly one with a wide range of assets. Julien Turcotte, the CEO of the CLD, explains, “The community is comprised of young, skilled, bilingual and culturally diverse people.” The area is “a stone’s throw from Montreal,” 18 miles to be exact, with access to available, not yet developed industrial space situated directly along transport routes. Located near the centre of Quebec’s logistical hub, Vaudreuil-Soulanges is considered the “nerve centre” for the Quebec-Ontario trade corridor. With access to Highway 401 in Ontario, the Trans-Canada Highway in Quebec and Highway 40, which connects Montreal and Ottawa, not only does the region see thousands of passers-by every day but Statistics Canada approximates that the total value of goods coming through Vaudreuil-Soulanges each year via roadways is more than $40 billion. Additionally, both Canadian rail companies, CP and CN, pass directly through the region, making it “a gateway to all markets in Canada and the eastern United States”and providing access to 135 million customers, nearly 25 percent of the North American population, who are accessible within 559 miles of land.
The mandate of the CLD Vaudreuil-Soulanges focuses on local development, entrepreneurship and support for investment through six key areas: logistics, agrifood, tourism, IT and clean technology. Logistically, the region’s strategic geographic location has been recognized as a prime site for industrial projects where access to customers and suppliers is an important issue. Notably, big blue chip businesses such as Norampac (since 1976), Kraft Canada, Canadian Tire and Ericsson in 2014 have acknowledged the development potential in the area, with Ericsson most recently setting up a $1.3 billion investment in the territory’s principal town of Vaudreuil-Dorion.
The tourism industry is also lucrative in supporting economic gains because of the region’s natural beauty and ease of access. Given that the area is only a short drive from downtown Montreal and surrounded by water, Vaudreuil-Soulanges acts as a getaway retreat from city life, offering ideal trails for hiking and biking as well as being surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. As Turcotte explains, “It’s gorgeous, even for a couple of hours if not a couple of days.” Despite the efforts to grow and expand industry within the region, Turcotte recognizes the importance of protecting the beauty of Vaudreuil-Soulanges’ natural environment by creating a “Cleantech and Life Sciences” sector within the CLD. The idea, he says, is to “do business without having negative impacts on the environment.”
CLD’s clean technology goal is developed by private partners such as Gaz Metro, the main distributer of natural gas in Quebec andC.A.T. Inc., an innovative company in the transport and logistics field, who are working to implement the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in vehicles to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases on the planet and the transport costs of goods.Turcotte understands that “the trucking industry is not going to slow down…we must pollute less.”
In the near future the CLD Vaudreuil-Soulanges, in partnership with the provincial government, intends to implement the Maritime Strategy, which will initiate even more trade through Quebec by utilizing the access of their surrounding waterways and inland ports. The establishment of Vaudreuil-Soulanges’ logistics hub for distribution will satisfy specific market needs, in turn helping to position Quebec as an international gateway for trade in eastern North America. When asked why companies should do business with the CLD Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Turcotte asserted, “We don’t want to attract just any and all types of industry…we have a plan to harmonize the use of our land with the businesses we facilitate.”
What is abundantly clear is that the Region of Vaudreuil-Soulanges’ economy is being built on the assumption of its continued growth, which does not show signs of slowing down any time soon. As a large network effectively operating alongside the government and many other organizations, the CLD offers technical assistance thatincludes analyzing business plans and financial model creation, as well as exploring possible funding options. The primary focus of the CLD is to embracethe region’s population growth by creating the space, business and infrastructure to support the community, while maintaining awareness for the protection of Vaudreuil-Soulanges’ natural landscape and the global environment as a whole.
To learn more about the CLD, visit www.cldvs.com.